I have often been labeled a “quiet” person, which always takes me by surprise. My mind runs so loud and fast, I sometimes forget that the constant clatter in my brain is not what others hear. It’s true that I often don’t often call attention to myself, though it’s never because I am without thoughts, ideas, or opinions. For a number of reasons, I am usually more likely to opt out than speak up. Here’s a few.
Sometimes, I’m too traumatized to speak. When a new memory reveals itself, I often go numb. Usually this happens when something that was buried in my subconscious makes its way to the forefront of my mind. While all trauma gets stored in a part of the brain that doesn’t have access to language, many of my traumatic memories are from a time before I could speak. It’s especially difficult to put these feelings and experiences into words. Instead of fight or flight, I freeze. I am stuck in my body, fully aware but trapped in a protective shell. This was my form of coping for many years as I survived chronic abuse. To survive, I would fade away and disappear.
Sometimes, I just don’t feel like talking. Beyond processing my trauma, I have a busy life. As much as it is important for me to “go there” often and give myself the space to feel whatever comes up, however it comes up, there is a limited amount of time to do this. For practical reasons, I often need to navigate the difference between putting off my feelings and avoiding them altogether. Sometimes, I just don’t have the bandwidth to talk or process anything. I am the kind of person who has an extremely active mind, and sometimes it’s a healthier option for me to tune out for a while.
Sometimes it’s not me, it’s you. I have learned at great cost who is safe to open up to and who is not. Chances are, if I’m quiet around you, you are either not vetted yet or you are not safe to me. Those who are close to me know that when I open up, I go deep. I love and cherish my friends whom I can open up to. That list is very small, and I am ok with that. If I do not open up to you, don’t take offense. All that does is make you more toxic to me. Sometimes, when I have nothing to say, I am saying a lot. I just need the right person who knows how to listen.